Ms. Wheelchair, Louisiana, speaks at Rotary Club

Back row from left, Program organizer Melinda Malmay and President-Elect Mary Zaunbrecher, welcomed Ms. Wheelchair, Louisiana Leah Hoffpauir, front row, left, and guests, Anita Gray, front row, right, and Roxanne Bingham, back row, right, to the Rotary Club of Crowley’s Tuesday meeting.

Far left, Becky Lamm and Alice Whiting showed off Crowley and the surrounding area to the members of the Vocational Training Team from Rotary District 9560 in Australia. The team learned about agriculture in the area, including crawfish farming. Team members include, from the left of Whiting, Tamara Campbell, Paul Arnott, Lindsay Wilkin, Cameron Wood and Michelle Webb. Also on hand to welcome the Australian delegation was Dr. Ezora Proctor, far right.

Elisabeth Leleux, fourth from left, become a member of the Rotary Club of Crowley Tuesday. Helping induct Leleux were, from left, Troy Breaux, M’Elise Trahan, Suzy Webb, Peggy Sandidge (partially hidden), Mary Zaunbrecher (facing group) and Jill Signorelli.

For many, life is about goals, at least that’s what Leah Hoffpauir’s life has been about.

It’s just that her goals in life have been dramatically shifted since a 2006 diving accident left her paralyzed.

And for every goal she has fallen short on she has achieved and set far more.

It was of little surprise then to those who knew Hoffpauir that, when she  set the goal of becoming Ms. Wheelchair, Louisiana, she achieved it. 

The lifelong Crowley resident and daughter of Mark and Sharon Hoffpauir, Leah Hoffpauir was on hand at the Rotary Club of Crowley’s Tuesday meeting to talk about her new goals and what lies on the road ahead as Ms. Wheelchair, Louisiana.

Through not only her rehabilitation here, but her travels to Project Walk Spinal Cord Injury Recovery in Carlsbad, Calif., Hoffpauir talked about falling short on her goal of learning to walk but learning so much about being independent and herself.

“I’m on my own now,” she said. “I’ve become independent.”

Part of that fun has been becoming a driver once again. Thanks in part to technology and Hoffpauir’s independence, she is able to get into her van, lock her chair in and drive herself. In fact, Hoffpauir openly jokes about being a 20-something with no kids driving a mini-van.

And while she is still living at home with her parents, one of Hoffpauir’s next big goals is to live on her own.

“I wanted to see what I was able to do on my own first,” she said. “My mom has been really helpful and I have been blessed with amazing parents.”

As a high school student, Hoffpauir came to identify herself as an athlete. To satisfy the athlete inside her, she also continues to work toward her goal of racing in a 5K.

“At first, I was thinking I’d use a manual wheelchair,” she said. “Trust me, that’s not the way to go.”

Hoffpauir is also back at school at LSU Eunice and will graduate in May of this year with an associate’s degree in art, which she hopes to further into bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Hoffpauir will next compete for the title of Ms. Wheelchair America  in August in Long Beach, Calif. Hoffpauir has also set up a GoFundMe page to help raise the $4,000 needed to help her travel and perform her duties as Louisiana’s title holder, including the competition in Long Beach.

“The community has been amazing,” she said. “I’ve had the page up for about two weeks ago now and it’s already raised over $1,000.”

To donate, visit http://www.gofundme.com/7i9gtw.

Hoffpauir wasn’t the only speaker at the club’s meeting as five visiting Australians took a few minutes to explain what they were doing in Crowley.

Tamara Campbell, along with Cameron Wood, Michelle Webb, Lindsay Wilkin and Paul Arnott, made their way to Crowley as part of their tour of south Louisiana, learning more about the agriculture trade here. 

The five serve as Rotary District 9560’s Vocational Training Team. Campbell explained that there was also a group in Australia from Rotary District 6200, which is the district of the Crowley and Rayne clubs, learning all it can there about Australia’s agriculture industry.

The club also added a new member Tuesday, Elisabeth Leleux.

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